Posted by: pastortomvabeach | November 22, 2016

Thought for the Week November 27, 2016

On Thursday, this week, we celebrated Thanksgiving Day, our national reminder that we didn’t do it ourselves, we don’t have the power, we need God’s help, and He gives it. As I mentioned last Sunday, thanksgiving ought to be a habit or attitude and not just a once-a-year holiday.

Since I am writing this before Thanksgiving Day, I want to simply mention some of the things for which I am grateful over the past year.

It goes without saying that I am grateful for the grace of God in giving His only Son, Jesus, to die for my sins and for purposely finding me and guiding me into this life of faith in Christ. I can say, after nearly 40 years of His grace poured out over me, that this life is all about what God does for me and in me and not about me. I fail and fret and fall down in faith so much that if He were not the kind and compassionate Savior that He is, I would long ago have been forsaken.

I was reading a devotional written by Dr. George O. Wood today and a quote from Martin Luther stood out. It tells me how much of this relationship is God’s work and how much is mine. Luther said, “Jesus never gave Himself for our righteousness, but He did give Himself for our sins. The first link between my soul and Jesus Christ is not my goodness, but my badness; not my merit, but my misery; not my standing, but my failings; not my riches, but my need. He comes to visit His people, not to admire their beauties, but to remove their deformities; not to reward their virtues, but to forgive their sins.” I am so grateful that Jesus is still working on me.

Besides that most important part of my life, I am exceedingly grateful for my dear wife, Lilia. I don’t know if I knew how much she means to me until earlier this year when she was laying in the Emergency Room hooked up to a heart monitor and I watched the monitor flat line. Her heart was starting, speeding, then stopping for several seconds at a time before restarting. The first time it happened, I thought I was going to lose her and that’s when I realized how much I didn’t want that to happen. I cried out to the Lord to spare her life. I didn’t know what else to do.

I’m grateful for the medical technology available today. The doctors implanted a pacemaker to regulate her heart and later this year performed an amazing procedure to put a stent into one of the arteries in her brain where an aneurysm was discovered. Again, the Lord was caring for her because it was a test that was done to try to figure out what was causing the episodes that lead up to the pacemaker that revealed the aneurysm. The doctor said that there are only two ways to find these. One is by accident in a test looking for something else and the other is usually by a catastrophic event of bleeding or bursting. We know there are no accidents with God!

I am also grateful for my children who all add to my joy of life and the grandchildren that God allowed me to live long enough to love and cherish. I am blessed with this immediate family and with six living brothers and sisters and a myriad of aunts, uncles, and cousins who enrich my life. I think family was probably God’s greatest institution.

When I think about family, I have to thank God for the family of God and the church He has graciously allowed me to serve for over 25 years. Some of the people have been here as long as or longer than me and others have arrived within the last few weeks or months. I don’t know what life would be like without them all. I love being around these brothers and sisters in Christ. I love seeing and hearing what God is doing in their lives. I even love being able to walk with them through the difficult places in life because their faith encourages me so much. If the day comes that the Lord calls me to retire from active pastoral ministry, my prayer is that I would be able to continue to attend Christian Chapel and serve the pastoral leadership and the people here. This is the best church in town and I can’t imagine not being here.

Well, I think you can see that my list of thankfulness is full of relationships. Relationships with God and with very special people are what life is about. I have been blessed to live in the United States and enjoy a fairly comfortable life but all of that would be meaningless if I didn’t have the unparalleled richness of closeness with the Lord and with so many people. I wonder if you’ve thought about this and if your gratitude list would be something like mine. You know, all of the tough places in life seem to fade away when I think about all God has given me. What about you? Just a thought on Thanksgiving.

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